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Nightmare Abbey (1818)

by Thomas Love Peacock

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3901553,747 (3.38)71
This 1818 novel is set in a former abbey whose owner, Christopher Glowry, is host to visitors who enjoy his hospitality and engage in endless debate. Among these guests are figures recognizable to Peacock's contemporaries, including characters based on Lord Byron and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Mr. Glowry's son Scythrop (also modeled on a famous Romantic, Peacock's friend Percy Bysshe Shelley) locks himself up in a tower where he reads German tragedies and transcendental philosophy and develops a "passion for reforming the world." Disappointed in love, a sorrowful Scythrop decides the only thing to do is to commit suicide, but circumstances persuade him to instead follow his father in a love of misanthropy and Madeira. In addition to satire and comic romance, Nightmare Abbeypresents a biting critique of the texts we view as central to British romanticism. This Broadview edition includes a critical introduction and a range of illuminating contemporary documents on the novel's reception and its German and British literary contexts. A selection of Peacock's critical and autobiographical writings is also included.… (more)
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» See also 71 mentions

English (13)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (15)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
The short, satirical novels of Thomas Love Peacock are unlike any other genre. They are often recognized as "novels", but they also have characteristics of drama or colloquia. They do not have a plot, but consist of pleasant and often humorous conversations. In these short novels, Peacock satirized his contemporaries and issues of his day. Despite the fact that most of the satire is lost on the average twenty-first century reader, they are still very readable, and might even provoke an occasional smile, but from what I understand they may have provoked bulderous laughter in their own day.

Nightmare Abbey (1818) is the most famous of Peacock's short novels. Thomas Love Peacock was a contemporary and friend of most of the Romantic poets and their circle. In Nightmare Abbey some of these poets appear in disguise, Percy Bysshe Shelley as “Scythrop Glowry,” Samuel Taylor Coleridge as “Mr Ferdinando Flosky” and, Lord Byron in as “Mr Cypress” but I must admit that I did not recognize them as such. According to the introduction, Shelley is reported to have said that his house was instantly recognisable in the story, but I suppose it would require a great deal of biographical information to see through that. In fact, Raymond Wright writes that (at least in 1986, i.e. when the introduction was written) many of the side characters in Peacock's novels had not yet been identified.

However, as I said before, all that literary criticism can be left for what it is, and these short novels can be enjoyed in their own right, with an occasional chuckle. ( )
  edwinbcn | Apr 14, 2022 |
The short, satirical novels of Thomas Love Peacock are unlike any other genre. They are often recognized as "novels", but they also have characteristics of drama or colloquia. They do not have a plot, but consist of pleasant and often humorous conversations. In these short novels, Peacock satirized his contemporaries and issues of his day. Despite the fact that most of the satire is lost on the average twenty-first century reader, they are still very readable, and might even provoke an occasional smile, but from what I understand they may have provoked bulderous laughter in their own day.

Nightmare Abbey (1818) is the most famous of Peacock's short novels. Thomas Love Peacock was a contemporary and friend of most of the Romantic poets and their circle. In Nightmare Abbey some of these poets appear in disguise, Percy Bysshe Shelley as “Scythrop Glowry,” Samuel Taylor Coleridge as “Mr Ferdinando Flosky” and, Lord Byron in as “Mr Cypress” but I must admit that I did not recognize them as such. According to the introduction, Shelley is reported to have said that his house was instantly recognisable in the story, but I suppose it would require a great deal of biographical information to see through that. In fact, Raymond Wright writes that (at least in 1986, i.e. when the introduction was written) many of the side characters in Peacock's novels had not yet been identified.

However, as I said before, all that literary criticism can be left for what it is, and these short novels can be enjoyed in their own right, with an occasional chuckle. ( )
  edwinbcn | Apr 14, 2022 |
Another great comedy and social satire. I previously read Crotchett Castle by the same author which is also really good. The characters in this arn't as various as those in Crotchett, this one is all about Goth. And i mean that in the modern sense, most of the characters really like being depressed, and you have people like Mr. Toobad and Mr. Listless.
Its very well written and has great back and forth conversations. It also didn't have as many words i had to look up as Crotchett Castle. I was so into it and it flows so nice that i nearly finished it in a single day, its good stuff. ( )
  wreade1872 | Nov 28, 2021 |
An early 19th century English fiction of manners. I found the love life of Scythrop to be both hilarious and unbelievable. This book was also a criticism of other authors of the day, which I'm sure went straight over my head! This book reminded me of a string of paper clips, all clipped together, it wasn't cohesive. I stuck with it since if was only 122 pages. I would rate this a 2.5, but since I know I didn't understand it and didn't bother to look up all the satire about the other authors, I'm going to rate it a 3. ( )
  Tess_W | Dec 9, 2020 |
In 2015 The Guardian published a list of the 100 best novels published in English, listed in chronological order of publication. Under Covid inspired lockdown, I have taken up the challenge.
This is book 9 in the chronological listing. Short, novella more than novel, and quite different from earlier books. This is a bit of fun, nudging the ribs of the various stereotypes in gentle society of the times (published in 1818).
As an aside, many of the early books in this list portray love affairs of the upper class of England at the time. With the benefit of hindsight, one would have to say that the mating habits of the time and class seem uniformly ineffective in every way. The pool of possible partners is so small; the capacity to get to know prospective spouses is so limited; and the influence of parents and others so inordinately large, that it is a wonder that Britain survived the era and became a world power! ( )
  mbmackay | Jul 10, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thomas Love Peacockprimary authorall editionscalculated
Barbolini RobertoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barbolini RobertoPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bertolucci, AttilioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Butler, MarilynIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Forster, PeterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Millar, H. R.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vargo, LisaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, EdmundForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
There's a dark lantern of the spirit,
Which none see by but those who bear it,
That makes them in the dark see visions
And hag themselves with apparitions,
Find racks for their own minds, and vaunt
Of their own misery and want.

BUTLER
MATTHEW. Oh! it's your only fine humour, sir. Your true melancholy breeds your perfect fine wit, sir. I am melancholy myself, divers times, sir: and and then I do no more but take pen and paper presently, and overflow you half a score or a dozen of sonnets at a sitting.

STEPHEN. Truly,sir, and I love such things out of measure.

MATTHEW. Why, I pray you, sir, make use of my study: it's at your service.

STEPHEN. I thank you, sir, I shall be bold, I warrant you. Have you a stool there, to be melancholy upon!

BEN JONSON, Every Man in his Humour, Act 3, Sc 1
Dedication
First words
Nightmare Abbey, a venerable family-mansion, in a highly picturesque state of semi-dilapidation, pleasantly situated on a strip of dry land between the sea and the fens, at the verge of the county of Lincoln, had the honour to be the seat of Christopher Glowry, Esquire.
Quotations
When Scythrop grew up, he was sent, as usual, to a public school, where a little learning was painfully beaten into him, and from thence to the university, where it was carefully taken out of him; and he was sent home like a well-threshed ear of corn, with nothing in his head: having finished his education to the high satisfaction of the master and fellows of his college,...
He had some taste for romance reading before he went to the university, where, we must confess, in justice to his college, he was cured of the love of reading in all its shapes; and the cure would have been radical, if disappointment in love, and total solitude, had not conspired to bring on a relapse.
The tower which Scythrop inhabited stood at the south-eastern angle of the Abbey; and, on the southern side, the foot of the tower opened on a terrace, which was called the garden, though nothing grew on it but ivy, and a few amphibious weeds. The south-western tower, which was ruinous and full of owls, might, with equal propriety, have been called the aviary.
MR FLOSKY: Very true, sir. Modern literature is a north-east wind--a blight of the human soul. I take credit to myself for having helped to make it so. The way to produce fine fruit is to blight the flower. You call this a paradox. Marry, so be it. Ponder thereon.
Raven: The Honourable Mr Listless is gone. He declared that, what with family quarrels in the morning, and ghosts at night, he could get neither sleep nor peace; and that the agitation was too much for his nerves: though Mr Glowry assured him that the ghost was only poor Crow walking in his sleep, and that the shroud and bloody turban were a sheet and a red nightcap.
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Disambiguation notice
Please do not combine single editions of Nightmare Abbey with the book called Nightmare Abbey and Crotchet Castle
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Wikipedia in English (1)

This 1818 novel is set in a former abbey whose owner, Christopher Glowry, is host to visitors who enjoy his hospitality and engage in endless debate. Among these guests are figures recognizable to Peacock's contemporaries, including characters based on Lord Byron and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Mr. Glowry's son Scythrop (also modeled on a famous Romantic, Peacock's friend Percy Bysshe Shelley) locks himself up in a tower where he reads German tragedies and transcendental philosophy and develops a "passion for reforming the world." Disappointed in love, a sorrowful Scythrop decides the only thing to do is to commit suicide, but circumstances persuade him to instead follow his father in a love of misanthropy and Madeira. In addition to satire and comic romance, Nightmare Abbeypresents a biting critique of the texts we view as central to British romanticism. This Broadview edition includes a critical introduction and a range of illuminating contemporary documents on the novel's reception and its German and British literary contexts. A selection of Peacock's critical and autobiographical writings is also included.

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